New Delhi, Mar 2: With the debate on the Ishrat Jahan encounter being thrown wide open following the startling revelations by former home secretary of India, G K Pillai, one must go deep into the case and understand why this operation was so crucial.
When India was hit hard in the form of the Parliament and 26/11 attacks, some within the government decided to change the narrative of the Ishrat Jahan encounter and now it is becoming clear that it was more to settle political scores.
Ishrat Jahan and three others were gunned down by the Gujarat police in an encounter in 2004. While it was a very successful operation thanks to actionable intelligence inputs, the government of the day decided to change the narrative.
While one affidavit claimed that these persons killed were indeed Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists, another filed exactly after a month stated the opposite.
This according to Pillai [Interview: Chidambaram should have guts to admit revising Ishrat affadavit and not hide- G K Pillai] was done by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram without consulting him or other senior officials in the IB or Home Ministry.
To understand how dangerous a module this was, one needs to visit an investigation that was conducted in Jammu and Kashmir. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba had unleashed three different modules into India. The three modules were to operate in Gujarat, Delhi and Srinagar.
Flirting with National Security:
On June 26 2004, the Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander, Shahid Mehmood. This was 11 days after the Gujarat police carried out the encounter killing Ishrat and three others.
When Mehmood was questioned, he told the police that he was taking orders from Muzzamil Bhat, a commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba housed in Pakistan.
According to Mehmood, there were three modules. While one was to operate in Srinagar, the other two were dispatched to Delhi and Ahmedabad.
He however did not spell out clearly what the other modules were tasked with. This is only natural since terror groups who depute their foot soldiers ensure that they work on a need to know basis.
By this time there had been doubts that had been raised over the encounter carried out by the Gujarat police.
The narrative was being changed in New Delhi and the Gujarat police found themselves in a spot of bother.
Further a team of the Gujarat police upon realising that the module in Ahmedabad was linked with the one in Srinagar dispatched a team to that state.
However prior to them reaching the police in Jammu and Kashmir carried out an encounter in which Mehmood was killed along with his accomplice Zahid.
This came as a set back for the Gujarat police as these men could have identified those killed in the encounter at Gujarat.
Following this the Gujarat police sought the custody of the others who were arrested in connection with the same plot in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Gujarat police were however not allowed to take custody.
At the same time there were reports suggesting that four persons were arrested in Srinagar for sheltering Amjad Ali one of the terrorists killed along with Ishrat.
The Gujarat police was however allowed to question only three out of the four. These investigations clearly suggested that the module sent to Ahmedabad was clearly that of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's.